Elizabeth “Betty” Noyes is one of my favorite authors. I’ll never forget the first time I picked up one of her books, also published by Write Integrity Press. I was so amazed by the world she created, the characters, and well-researched background. With the release of Imperfect Promises, the series is complete.
So, let’s get down to business!
Thank you, Betty Noyes, for taking the time to visit with me. There are two very important elements in your Imperfect series: family and setting. As an introduction to the stories, please tell us a little about each of these elements.
Family – I am a Christian writing for a Christian press, but I don’t want to just ‘preach to the choir.’ As we age and die off, the choir must be replenished. I want to reach outside the Christian community for those readers searching for a good, clean, entertaining book that isn’t glutted with the profanity, explicit violence, and gratuitous sex so prevalent in today’s literature. My goal is to deliver a satisfying, entertaining story that readers can get lost in while ingesting some of the seeds I’ve sown. I want them to see Christians, not as adversaries, but as real people like themselves, people who struggle with the same problems, moral dilemmas, and failings. In my books, I want them to know what a strong, family unit can do through love, support, and devotion. I believe our country and way of life is in peril unless we reestablish and fortify the family unit.
Setting – The key to engaging a reader is to provide a connection for them—to a character(s), to an event or circumstance, and/or to a setting. The trick is to describe these people/events/places just enough to give something familiar to the reader, someone they can picture, an event they recall, or a place they’ve been to or seen. For example, I think just about everybody can remember a time spent in doctor’s office or hospital emergency waiting room. Enough description—uncomfortable chairs all lined up, squalid carpeting, antiseptic smells, sick people slumped over, a sobbing child, television turned to a boring program, dogeared outdated magazines—can drop you right back to that moment.
The opening scene of your final book is gritty, and kind of ugly, but a page-turner, because I want to find out why Jonas Cameron is in this place, doing what he’s doing. How would you describe your main character? Give readers a sense of who he is (without revealing too much).
It’s interesting to me that you see the opening chapter as gritty and kind of ugly because all of my male readers loved the realism. That’s been one of my biggest struggles while writing from dual point of views. As a woman, it’s hard to put myself into the mind of a man. That’s why I have several male beta readers I call upon all the time. This opening scene does not show Nigeria as the beautiful country it actually is, rather it reveals the mindset of the main character, a soldier. It reflects the resentment he feels for being there, the extended time his mission has taken, the harsh landscape and difficult weather conditions he’s subjected himself to, how he grapples with doing the deed, and the fact that he might not yet get to leave. All of these factors flavor his attitude, his state of mind, his thoughts.
As I mentioned earlier, all my characters are flawed, hence the name Imperfect in the titles. We all mean well, but seldom live up to our intentions. Jonas is the middle child, older than his twin sisters, but the youngest of the three brothers. While he followed in his brothers’ footsteps and joined the military right out of college, Jonas’s path took him down some pretty dark roads. Now separated from that life, he’s still bound by oath to keep those secrets, and struggles with the right or wrongness of his past decisions.
I loved the realism. I was immediately drawn in to the story. And you’re right about male readers.
In the last couple of books before this one, I picked up the idea that Jonas is a little hopeless where love is concerned. It will take a special woman to deal with his past. So, who is Shea Townsend? Can you give us a glimpse into her character?
Jonas comes with the typical bachelor attitude. He’s watched his two older brothers and wants to sow his wild oats just as they did. But as his brothers and sisters all fall into committed relationships, he begins to recognize the emptiness of his life. He sees the joy his siblings have found, and wonders if it might be available to him, too.
Shea Townsend is a complicated character. She lost her mother’s influence at an early age, and was raised by a mentally unstable father who saw her more as another hand to help out than as a child to raise. Having grown up on a cattle farm, she became very knowledgeable about the biological workings of the world and yet remained intriguingly naïve with little real-world exposure. When her one foray into a relationship ended in betrayal, she chose to protect herself by shutting down any man who showed interest in her.
Shea actually appeared in book one of the series, and had several more interactions with Jonas as the series progressed. Their connection was a slow build, a necessary requirement given her wariness and his commitment phobia. They actually became friends first, before the attraction between them was allowed to sizzle. Shea’s character arc takes from self-inflicted independence and zero trust to accepting that others could love her without having a hidden agenda. She learns to accept Jonas as he is, while recognizing there are some parts of him she’ll never know.
About the author: Who is Elizabeth Noyes?
I’m a southern girl. I grew up in Mobile, Alabama, but lost much of my southern accent when I married an Army man and spent the next twenty-five years following him around the world. Now that we’ve settled in a small town on the outskirts of Atlanta, I like to say that I still speak the language.
My husband and I still like to travel, but we also enjoy spending time with our three grandchildren who live nearby. We go to soccer games and gymnastic meets, and babysit the g-kids and g-dogs whenever asked. I’m involved in several Bible studies and am active in our church, but I also enjoy playing bridge and baking. Oh yes, I’m an avid reader and usually consume 3-4 books a week.
Of course, there’s my writing. I’m not the typical author who sets a word count quota and works a little bit every single day. When an idea comes to mind, I will spend hours upon hours for days upon days lost in the story until I get it all down.
I like your writing style! You visited the setting of your Imperfect stories last year, and I believe it was a special time for you. Tell us a little about that adventure.
As I mentioned, my husband and I enjoy traveling. Alaska was one place I’d not been, but he’d made many visits there while still in the service. I finally talked him into going (I told him I was going with or without him!), and he agreed it would be fun. The cruise to Alaska turned into a train trip across Canada following the cruise, and then it morphed into a road trip across the northwestern United States the week before the cruise. We spent a year planning all the details.
On this road trip we took Route 93 down through Montana and Idaho to the (fictional) town of Hastings Bluff where the Camerons live. We stopped in the neighboring (real) town of Challis for lunch, toured the area, visited the library (yes, I sent them my books), and pointed out the places where different events in the books took place. What can I say? It’s was magical. Like coming home!
As this series ends, are you sad to say goodbye?
I’ve read many series that seem to go on and on … until I got tired of them and just stopped reading. I didn’t want my readers to reach that point. Could the story continue? Absolutely, I mean life goes on, right? Do my readers clamor for more? Yes, they do. Some have asked for a continuation, others want the parents’ story, and still others have asked for a spinoff. While I won’t rule out any possibilities, I’ve set my mind on another project for now.
Saying goodbye to Cate and Cody Cameron, Garrett and TJ, Wade and Lucy, Jonas and Shea, Mallory and James, and Cassie and Derek is … I’ll be honest, it’s hard. It hurts. They’ve become very real to me. They’re family, but I know I’m leaving them in the fond hearts of my readers, so I’m okay with The End.
What’s next for you?
I mentioned a new project above, but I actually have three I’m considering. One is a two-part story, another is a three-book trilogy, and the third is similar to The Imperfect Series, but with totally different characters. All three projects are screaming to be heard, but I need to get through the flurry of book release activities before I can settle in for a long day of writing. That’s when I’ll determine which of these new characters want most to be heard!